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IndyCar: DXC Technology 600 Recap

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Texas Motor Speedway has long been a controversial venue for the Verizon IndyCar Series. Initially so for the incredibly close, and at times frightening, pack racing that featured cars side-by-side, several rows deep, for lap after lap, recent years have seen a swing toward car setup and tire management defining the action more so than pack racing, though the debate has raged on about the quality of the show and its entertainment value.

Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 was yet another chapter in that controversial debate, as the universal aero kit made its debut on the high-banked 1.5-mile oval. Indeed, it was far from a pack race, but pre-race concerns about passing, with some fearing the race would be “boring,” ultimately proved somewhat exaggerated.

The 600-kilometer affair was plenty entertaining, with action all over the place from the getgo.

A recap of Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 is below.

Car Setup, Strategy, and Overtaking Combined for an Impressive Show

As previously described, Saturday night’s Texas race was not a pack race. But that didn’t mean it was boring, and there was passing aplenty throughout.

Zach Veach charged from 16th on the grid to run inside the top five in the first 100 laps. Marco Andretti put on a similar charge, also getting inside the top five in the first half of the race after starting 11th.

Alexander Rossi was his usual, hard-charging self, and he made particular use of lapped traffic to make up positions.

Pit strategy also shuffled the leaders around in the opening stints. Josef Newgarden led early, then Simon Pagenaud assumed the lead on Lap 73 after the first round of pit stops. Robert Wickens then made a pass on Pagenaud to take the lead on Lap 97.

And Scott Dixon then assumed the lead on lap 132 following a round of stops – he pitted a lap earlier than Wickens, and used a lap on fresher tires along with quick pit work to assume the lead.

And though Dixon dominated from there, the racing behind him was pretty frantic, as evidenced by the clips below.

And the drivers felt like the show looked good from where they were sitting.

“We passed a lot of cars,” detailed second-place finisher Simon Pagenaud. “It was a different kind of racing than what you’ve seen last year. I felt safe. I felt like I was really driving the car, really taking care of my tires, like I said. I had to think about what I needed. To me, that’s racing. To me, that’s the quality of being a racecar driver. I don’t know about the show because I got to watch the race. But to me it was pretty active. It felt pretty good.”

Race winner Dixon explained that the concerns raised in practice about a lack of grip came from running in the heat of the day, and the night time conditions were always going to yield more grip.

“It’s always tough at Texas because we do our practices during the heat of the day. The track changes significantly once we get to the nighttime. Once the track temp goes down, the grip really comes up. I had that sensation at the end of the last practice last night. Once the track temp started to come down, the grip level really came up. I knew it was going to be a pretty good situation for the race,” he explained.

While the package for Texas continues to be somewhat of a moving target – unsurprisingly, given that it is the only high-banked oval on the schedule – Saturday night’s race was thoroughly intriguing throughout all 248 laps.

Dixon Cements Legendary Status

Scott Dixon broke a tie with Michael Andretti for third on the all-time IndyCar wins by winning the DXC Technology 600. Photo: IndyCar

The legend that is Scott Dixon grew slightly more on Saturday, and not just because of the manner in which he won – it was another classic Dixon race in which he methodically worked his way forward after starting seventh and dominated after assuming the lead to make winning look almost easy.

Dixon’s legend grew because of where the win places him on the all-time win list now. Winning Race 1 of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit tied him with Michael Andretti for third all-time with 42 victories, and Saturday night’s triumph broke that tie to put Dixon into third place all by himself with 43 wins.

As such, the only two drivers ahead of him now are named A.J. Foyt (with 67 wins) and Mario Andretti (with 52 wins). Add in a pair of overall wins at the Rolex 24 at Daytona (2006 and 2015), along with a GT Le Mans class win in 2018, and Dixon has a lot of accolades on his resume…and those accolades legitimately place him among the sports all-time greats.

Humble as always, Dixon expressed gratitude for simply being able to race for a living, and he highlighted that being mentioned alongside Foyt and the Andrettis is icing on the cake.

“It’s really cool. Obviously I have massive respect for a lot of these drivers. But when you look at those names, A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, the Unsers, to me it still seems very strange that ‘Dixon’ is on that list, too,” he revealed. “I feel very privileged and lucky to do what I get to do. I love racing. I love the Verizon IndyCar Series. I think it’s the best racing on the planet, one of the most difficult with all the disciplines. For me, man, I just hope it continues. I hope we can keep a winning style, pick up wins. It’s so difficult right now it’s so competitive.”

Dixon turns 38 in July, and though the number suggests he’s on the back end of his career, Dixon ain’t slowing down…at all. And there’s no telling what numbers he may amass in the remainder of his career.

Misc.

  • He continues to be overshadowed by teammate Robert Wickens, but James Hinchcliffe put in another solid drive on Saturday night to finish fourth. Not qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 will undoubtedly leave a big black mark on his season, but his results outside of that look like this: fourth, sixth, ninth, third, seventh, 11th, 16th, fourth. If not for Indy, Hinch may well be battling for a top five spot in the championship picture. Wickens may be stealing the headlines, but James Hinchcliffe is not to be forgotten.
  • The aforementioned Zach Veach and Marco Andretti suffered horrible luck in Texas. Veach brushed the wall, damaging a toe link, while Andretti suffered a broken clutch during a Lap 125 pit stop. Their misfortunes left them in 14th (Andretti) and 16th (Veach) on nights when they surely would have battled inside the top five. Both deserved better than the misfortune they suffered.
  • Charlie Kimball now has back-to-back top 10s for Carlin Racing – he finished eighth in Detroit Race 2 and 10th in Texas. Given that Carlin is still adapting to IndyCar competition, it’s a pair of solid results that show the team is making nice progress.

With that, the Verizon IndyCar Series takes a week off – though drivers like Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, and Sebastien Bourdais are headed to the 24 Hours of Le Mans as part of the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing effort – with the next IndyCar event being the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America (June 22-24).

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Oliver Askew: ‘I was starting to lose confidence’ after ‘hardest hit I’ve had’

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Oliver Askew knew something was medically wrong in the days after concussion-like symptoms began from “the hardest hit I’ve ever had” in the Indianapolis 500. He’d been evaluated and cleared to race after the Aug. 23 crash, but he just didn’t feel right.

The IndyCar rookie told The Associated Press on Thursday he has been experiencing dizziness, sleeping difficulties, irritability, headaches and confusion since he crashed in the Aug. 23 race. He continued to race in four more events as he tried to “play through it” until friends and family encouraged him to seek medical treatment.

He since has been diagnosed with a concussion and is working on a recovery plan with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s sports medicine concussion program, the same place NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. received care after concussions in 2012 and ’16. Askew will not compete in next weekend’s doubleheader on the road course at Indianapolis, and Arrow McLaren SP will put three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Chevrolet.

“This is all I’ve worked for,” the 23-year-old told AP. “I don’t come from money, and I’ve worked my way up and have finally gotten my shot in a good car. And then all of a sudden, the results just weren’t there in a car I knew should be performing. And I just didn’t feel like myself, you know?

“So initially I felt like I needed to stay in the car and continue to improve. And then I didn’t feel like I could do that with my condition and what was going on. I was starting to lose confidence in myself.”

Earnhardt praised Askew for going to Pittsburgh to see Dr. Micky Collins.

“Oliver is in the best hands when it comes to taking care of this problem and getting back on the racetrack. It was very smart of him to get in front of Micky so that he could understand the seriousness of the situation and begin the process of getting well,” Earnhardt said. “You can absolutely heal from this but not without taking the step of getting help. Often that’s the most difficult step.”

Athletes often hide injuries to continue competing, and even Earnhardt admittedly masked concussions during his driving career. Askew didn’t know what was wrong with him but was frightened to get out of the car.

He is a paid driver who brings no sponsorship money to the team (but did bring a $1 million scholarship for winning last year’s Indy Lights championship), and owner Sam Schmidt holds the option on his contract.

As he tried to race on, his performance suffered. Askew had finished third and sixth at Iowa — the previous two races before Indianapolis. After the crash, he was part of a multicar accident the next week at Gateway and has not finished higher than 14th in the four races since Indy.

A year after winning seven Indy Lights races, Askew has fallen from 12th to 18th in the standings and slipped considerably off the pace. He said he struggled in team debriefs, had difficulty giving feedback and has gone through a personality change that was noticeable to those close to Askew.

Spire Sports + Entertainment, which represents Askew and was among those who pushed the driver to see a doctor, noted Arrow McLaren SP did not reveal that Askew was suffering from a concussion in its Thursday announcement he would miss next week’s race.

“Oliver clearly demonstrated his talent until Lap 91 of the Indianapolis 500, and I hope this does not become another case study of why athletes do not tell their teams they are injured,” said agent Jeff Dickerson. “The reason they do that is because more often times than not they are replaced. In motorsports, there is always somebody to replace you, and whether it was Dale Jr. or Oliver Askew, there is always another driver available.

“I hope this is not a barrier to progress for other drivers — especially young drivers afraid of losing their job — to notify their teams they are hurt. I hope the team proves me wrong because the good news is, the kid has had a head injury for the past month and has still run 14th in IndyCar.”

After finally seeking medical treatment, Askew said he was relieved to learn there was something wrong. He said doctors told him the injury has a “100% recovery rate” and he believes he will be able to race in the IndyCar season finale next month at St. Petersburg. He’s been rehabilitating with exercises and tasks that strain the brain such as deliberately going to grocery stores and the airport.

“Honestly, you know, if I had not gone to see medical professionals I would probably stay in the car,” Askew said. “But now after hearing what’s wrong and that it could get worse, God forbid I have another hit, I know I did the right thing. I think I can be an example for young drivers now in stepping up and saying something is wrong, I need to have this checked out.”